Years ago I read an article that questioned the idea of why we “put our children” on the bus, so to speak, after years of training them “not” to ride the bus. This really struck home with me; and, so far, has manifested itself into different, somewhat unique choices our children have made regarding college.First you’ve got to take a look at what you value as a family and what you’ve tried to pass on to your children as it will relate to college. Here are some concepts that seemed to shed light on our children’s choices so far.
- We don’t put a high priority on peer interaction. Family has always been important to us, and though our children have other friends besides their siblings they are never the priority. If and when they do interact with peers it is intentional and with purpose. For instance, we belong to a co-op where they learn with their peers, they compete in speech and debate where they compete and share ideas on big issues with their peers, and they work at camp staff. They see and do things with peers but with a purpose as opposed to “hanging out” or “play dates”.
- Not going into debt except for a mortgage is a big deal and we’ve taught the kids that.
- Names of schools mean little in the real world, especially when you consider that we are interested in “learning”.
- We value “learning” over a piece of paper. Yes, we realize the “piece of paper” (i.e. diploma) is needed to meet a “requirement” for a job etc… It will be your knowledge, skill, how you present yourself etc… that should matter most. Those skills take priority.
All of these questions should shape your choices. You may not answer them all the same as we have and that’s okay.
If your answers were similar to ours however you may question why you are now finding yourself considering doing what “everyone” else does and putting your children on the expected path when you never trained your children for that path in the first place. Sending our children away to an expensive 4 year college was never what we trained them for, or hoped they would do. It violates nearly all of the values we set forth. Yet, it can feel like “everyone” is doing it. And didn’t it feel somewhat like that when we first set out homeschooling as well?
There is the temptation and even the expectation that you’ll “tow the line” and do what is expected by everyone else. My oldest was transferring to a larger college after doing his first two years at a community college and it was really “assumed” he’d go ahead and take the loans. They call it “financial aid” and even list it in the “scholarship” column, as if it’s money given to him. They promised him a certain amount of scholarship and aid but when it came in several thousand less than their prediction they assumed he’d just take the loan. It is all done very smoothly and I’m sure many well intended students and parents are lured in (it would be easy to be!) By the way, he ended up NOT going there.
So what do you do then to accomplish school? There are lots of options and we are finding it looks different for each of our children.
- Pray about it. It is amazing so far how each of our 3 oldest are taking a slightly different path. Things for each are working out but not always in the way we thought ahead of time.
- Look for creative options. Our 2nd child chose to do a lot of CLEP and DSST testing and then transfer it to an online college for his degree. This is much cheaper and more flexible than a “standard” degree. It can also be faster in some cases. Community college might be a good choice as they are often way less and “local” so there is not the need to “go away”.
- Think about working while doing school. This not only gives you practical experience in many cases but with some employers you can get benefits that will pay for your education.
- Use your time in high school if you can to take advantage of “early college” which often can be at reduced rates.
- Many colleges now offer degree that can either fully or partially be completed online from home. Start searching and you’ll be amazed at what you find.
For more step by step and practical advice and links see my recent blog article on Making College Work for homeschoolers.